Style 0-42 Guitars

1893 Martin Style 0-42

Color: Natural with rosewood back and sides, Rating: 9.25, Sold (ID# 02309)
Call to Inquire: (818) 222-4113


Most Probably the Finest Late Nineteenth Century Martin 0-42 in Existence - "Simply the Best" (Tina Turner)
"These Abalone-Bordered Guitars Make Quite a Fashion Statement" (Chinery)


1893 Martin Style 0-42


This near mint 129 year old Martin guitar weighs just 2.60 lbs. and has a 13 1/2 inch wide and 4 3/16 inch deep Brazilian rosewood, 'X-braced' body with highly decorative six-ply abalone binding which extends all the way round the end of the fretboard, a 'half-herringbone' pattern' inlaid back-stripe and a natural spruce top with a multi bound (including a circle of abalone) 3 1/2 inch diameter sound-hole. Spanish cedar screw neck (with 'decorative diamond', or 'volute' on the back of the headstock) with a nice fat 'classical' nut-width of 1 7/8 inches, a scale length of 24.90 inches and that distinctive early Martin 'V' shaped profile with 0.90 inches at the first fret and 0.98 inches at the ninth fret. Solid Spanish cedar headstock with original three-a-side, rear-facing ivory friction-fit tuning pegs. Ivory-bound ebony fretboard with eighteen original thin frets and neck joint at twelfth fret. Original-style bone saddle on ivory 'Pyramid' base and six original bone bridge-pins with abalone dots. The date of manufacture "Dec. 7 / 1893" is marked in pencil on the underside of the spruce top. The body is stamped "C.F. Martin & Co., New York" on the inside center strip and on the neck block with "No. 78" written in black ink below. Also on the same center strip is the stamp "From / Sherman, Clay & Co. / San Francisco". The back of the headstock is stamped in blind "C.F. Martin / New-York." and the brace nearest the end of the neck just by the soundhole has "J. Walcom" written or stamped in black. This extremely beautiful one-hundred and twenty-nine year old guitar is most certainly one of the cleanest examples extant. It is housed in its original three-latch shaped wooden 'coffin' case with brass handle, one of two of the original brass catches, and burgundy 'padded' felt lining (9.00). Inside the case (on the top) is the original rectangular white paper label printed in black with "C.F. Martin & Co., / Manufacturers of / Guitars and Mandolins / Size of Guitar.  No. of Quantity" A total of 389 Martin 0-42s were produced between 1898 and 1942. Martin started stamping serial numbers in 1898 (the last serial number in 1898 was "8348"). There is a four-inch hairline crack on the treble side of the spruce top - just past the bridge, and some very light playing wear - again on the treble side of the spruce top. There is a miniscule amount of varnish wear on the back of the neck from the 1st to the 5th frets, otherwise the guitar is in as near mint (9.25+++) condition as one could ever possibly wish for. We have thoroughly examined it under ultra-violet light and can confirm that to the best of our knowledge nothing has ever been done to this guitar. It is quite simply and most likely the finest example extant. According to Greig Hutton this guitar is one of just six made in 1893 and of the six it is one of two with the original friction-fit tuners. (Hutton's Guide to Martin Guitars: 1833-1969).

This guitar is identical to the one shown in full color on p. 61 of Washburn & Johnston. Martin Guitars. An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker.

Size 0 was Martin's concert guitar, added to the smaller sizes by the early 1850s. From an 1870s Martin price list we can see the following: "No. 0-42 Rosewood Inlaid with Pearl, Ivory bound  $90.00 including wooden case."

"Style 42 is another one of the older ones, and was the top of the Martin line until Style 45 was introduced. It featured an abalone pearl border around the top like style 40, but with the addition of a connecting link of pearl around the end of the fingerboard. Like the 40, it had an abalone soundhole ring." (Longworth. Martin Guitars. A History, p. 47.)

"All Martin six-string guitars were made with 12 frets clear of the body until 1929, when the Perry Bechtel OM-28 was introduced in the fall of that year." (Johnston & Boak. Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference, p. 25.)

"The elegance of Martin's Style 42 may have been confined to the ladies' size 2 on the price list, but that didn't keep people from ordering them in larger sizes. Though this example is from is from the 1890s, similar special orders of
I-42 and 0-42 models show up in Martin sales records in the early 1880s. With gleaming ivory bridge and ivory friction pegs but a blank fretboard, these abalone-bordered guitars make quite a fashion statement."

"The earliest Martin guitars were sent by stagecoach, then often by canal, to customers in the eastern United States. The young Martin company constructed not only the "coffin" cases for their instruments, but also the packing crates used in shipping. The cost of case, crate, and shipping was often over a third as much as the cost of the guitar itself." (Washburn & Johnston. Martin Guitars. An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker. pp.6 & 61).

Martin 0-42. "Through the years, Martin’s dreadnought, OM, and 000 guitars may have gained the most notoriety. But for the sweetest and best-quality sound, Martin itself recommends the size 0, exemplified by this 0-42.
There’s obviously a catch to that statement, since only two of Martin’s current offering of over 200 models are size-0 guitars. The recommendation appeared in Martin catalogs around the time this guitar was made – 1920 – when a 13 1/2″ guitar was still considered a full-size instrument. If a sweet sound was not enough, Martin recommended the larger (though still small by modern standards) 14 1/8″-wide 00-size for clients wanting the greatest possible power in a concert setting (the even-larger, 15″-wide 000 was a more powerful guitar than the 00, but with sporadic production averaging less than five guitars per year from 1902 to 1920, its staying power was still unproven). At the time this guitar was made, the vast majority of Martin guitars were designed to be played with gut strings. Although these guitars are braced with an X pattern, which is typically associated with steel-string instruments, it should be noted that Martin was using X bracing by the early 1850s, long before the company ever had any thought of putting steel strings on any of their guitars. It’s also of interest to note that while the bracing in 1893 was still very light, the actual dimension of the bracing was not radically different from the late ’20s onward, when Martin’s smaller guitars were intended to be used with steel strings. It was not until the mid 1940s that Martin dramatically beefed up the size of the braces on the small-body instruments. This 1893 guitar features French polish finish rather than lacquer. Martin started using nitrocellulose lacquer in 1926. Prior to that, their guitars had a hand-rubbed shellac-based finish (“French polish” is the technique). Sprayed lacquer is much easier to apply and more resistant to scratches, but tends to dry out and crack over a long period of time, whereas French polish finishes look good even when over a century old. Style 42 dates back to the 1850s, when Martin began standardizing ornamentation schemes. Then, as now, it used abalone trim around the soundhole, top border, and around the fingerboard extension… Style 42 remained Martin’s top model for almost 50 years, until the introduction of Style 45 in the early 1900s… The 0-42 sold in small numbers from 1898 (the first year that production figures are available) through 1920, peaking at 20 per year but with single-digit production in many of those years." The present guitar has a date of manufacture as  "Dec. 7 / 1893" and the serial number "78". This is one of a handful of the earliest 0-42's produced - the earliest record shows that just 7 were produced in 1898, 17 in 1899, 17 in 1900 & only 3 in 1901. (with thanks to George Gruhn's article in Vintage Guitar Magazine).

Sherman Clay, a San Francisco music store founded in 1870.


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